Paris Home Sightseeing
Where to Stay Transportation

Paris > Sightseeing / 'Hop on, hop off' buses

Paris 'Hop on, hop off' sightseeing buses


ABOVE: A bus of L'OpenTour swings past N�tre-Dame Cathedral on the �le de la Cit�.

L'OpenTour and Big Bus Tours

If you're in Paris for only a short time, or if your body won't withstand hours of walking every day, a traditional escorted bus tour is a great convenience. Our tours and activities partner, Viator, offers a variety of tours and excursions in Paris and the surrounding area, with prices in a wide choice of currencies.

Independent travelers often turn up their noses at guided tours, preferring to travel on foot, by M�tro or RER trains, or on city buses. (We share their preference.)

Nowadays, a third option offers a compromise between convenience and independence: the "hop on, hop off" sightseeing bus.

Double-decker buses of L'OpenTour and Big Bus Tours  (formerly Les Cars Rouge) follow set routes with stops at leading museums and tourist attractions.

For a fixed price, you can step off a bus, explore an attraction or neighborhood at your leisure, and catch another bus when you're ready to move on.

As a bonus, you can put on headphones and listen to a running commentary between stops.

The green-and-yellow buses of L'OpenTour cover four sightseeing routes that cover most areas of interest to visitors. A single pass gives you access to all four routes.

The red-and-gold buses of Big Bus Tours cover two routes: the classic "Red Route" in the city center and a "Blue Route" that skirts Montmartre. You can buy your pass on the bus or save 10 percent by ordering online.

  • Language note: Both companies have recorded audio tours in multiple languages (11 for Big Bus Tours and 10 for L'OpenTour the last time we checked, with three special commentaries for children on L'OpenTour). Headphones are complimentary.

  • Prices:  Both bus lines offer similar prices for one- and two-day passes. L'Opentour also has a three-day pass for a few euros more, and Big Bus Tours has a reduced-priced Night Tour.

    For details on current prices and special offers, see the companies' Web sites and check Viator's rates in the currency of your choice before you buy. (Viator's rates are sometimes cheaper than the rates of the companies themselves.)

  • Waiting times: In summer, both lines operate buses at frequent intervals. Wait times are a bit longer in winter. Check the companies' Web sites for current timetables before booking.

  • If you prefer water to asphalt: Try the Batobus (see next page), which extends the "hop on, hop off" concept to the Seine.

Note: Other companies offer sightseeing tours of Paris (Cityrama and Foxity come to mind), but we've chosen to focus on the two major providers, which offer frequent service and extensive route networks year-round.

Also see: Batobus water bus

'Hop on, hop off' land and water buses:
L'OpenTour, Big Bus Tours
Batobus water bus

Related article:
Paris sightseeing boats

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

For more information, see About our site, press clippings, and reader testimonials.